Early in my career, I was lucky enough to become a friend and frequent collaborator of the great, generous American mezzo-soprano Frederica (“Flicka”) von Stade. In addition to accompanying her in recitals, I was invited to compose songs for her. By now, in addition to dozens of songs, I’ve also composed three starring opera roles for her: Mrs. De Rocher (Dead Man Walking), Madeline Mitchell (Three Decembers) and Winnie Flato (Great Scott). In 1999, just before completing my first opera, I was invited by the San Francisco Girls Chorus to create a short, dramatic work that would feature a solo role for Flicka. I chose Amy Lowell’s Patterns, the story of a passionate, young aristocratic woman who suffers the death of her fiancé in a war-torn world. Though her life has been turned upside down, she grieves privately and internally, compelled to maintain a façade of formality and strength – her passion warring against the relentless, heartless patterns of life and society that trap her. The first performance was given at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on May 24, 1999, led by Sharon J Paul.